A study conducted by a Rutgers University professor revealed students enrolled in business programs across the nation report higher levels of cheating than students in other fields of study.
Donald McCabe, a professor of organization management at the Rutgers Business School, completed the report.
The report is derived from a survey created in 2002 that included about 20 questions regarding 20 individual cheating behaviors. The survey was given to over 170,000 students at more than 165 different colleges and universities.
In the data, 25 percent of business school students reported one or more incidents of cheating on exams, including cooperating during a test, copying directly from an unknowing peer or permitting a fellow student to copy from their exam.
Similarly, 53 percent of business school students and 48 percent of students studying other academic fields reported written cheating including plagiarism from print or Internet sources.
“I don’t think the students consider it as serious an issue,” McCabe said. “They think of what goes on in their profession, and they just say ‘I’m acquiring a skill.'”
McCabe added cheating not only reflects poorly on individuals, but it is also bad for the future of business in general.
“Students think they’re emulating business practices,” McCabe said. “Low level cheating magnifies itself in the work force and continues to be a problem.”
McCabe added a competitive atmosphere in the working world of business revolves around speed and efficiency and indirectly encourages this cheating trend.
“People want to hire employees that will get the job done, and they are less concerned how they do it,” McCabe said. “It’s a bottom line mentality — get the job done.”
University of Wisconsin School of Business spokesperson Melissa Anderson agreed the competitive environment in college and university business departments across the nation is a probable cause of the greater reported cheating among business students.
Steve Schroeder, assistant dean at the UW School of Business, said the statistics took him by surprise and added the UW business school has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to academic misconduct.
Schroeder said he would argue the culture of the business school is not conducive to cheating and the students he interacts with are highly ethical.
“I think there is much more of an emphasis on ethics than ever before,” Schroeder said. “Our students are required to take an ethics course … and a lot of our faculty incorporate ethics into their individual courses so it would be pure speculation for me why there are more cheating.”
A sophomore at UW business school who wished to remain anonymous said though he doesn’t see cheating as a chronic problem among all business students, he sees a greater amount of cheating in his business classes than in his non-business courses.
“I see it in my econ courses especially — people next to me cheating and people sitting in certain ways so they can cheat,” he said. “It’s a competitive program, so people are willing to cheat more.”